Brawley man arraigned in fatal stabbing

May 10, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA
  • Pedro Gutierrez Archuleta watches Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras during Archuleta's arraignment Thursday on charges he murdered Jovita Becerra, 16, of Brawley. CUAUHTEMOC BELTRAN PHOTO

Staff Writer

It was a tearful arraignment for both the family of a 22-year-old Brawley resident facing a murder charge and for the family of the 16-year-old victim.

The arraignment was in the county jail court near El Centro Thursday. Arraigned was Pedro Gutierrez Archuleta, accused of murdering Jovita Becerra while she was alone in her family's apartment in the 400 block of North First Street Monday evening.

Family members of Archuleta and Becerra filled the small jail court Thursday.

After sitting through arraignments of other suspects, Archuleta walked in wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. He looked around and saw his family before turning his attention to the judge before him.

Deputies and bailiffs inside the jail court watched the court carefully and locked the main entrance.

Meanwhile, one of Archuleta's family members could not keep her composure and left the jail court before she broke in tears.


Jovita's father then grasped the hand of one of his daughters as Superior Court Judge Matias Contreras read the charges and set pretrial and preliminary hearing dates.

The charges he is facing are one count of murder and one count of possession of a weapon, which Contreras said was a knife.

Archuleta's pretrial hearing is set for Tuesday. His preliminary hearing is set for May 21. His bail will remain at $1 million.

After the hearing outside the courtroom, members of both families broke into tears. A family member of Jovita cried as she shouted toward Archuleta's family, "She was only a girl!"

"She was defenseless and nobody helped her!" she said.

Other family members quickly took her into a van and then drove off. Meanwhile, Archuleta's family members hugged each other while one said to another, "It's not our fault. We didn't do this."

One of Archuleta's family members, who wished to remain anonymous, told a reporter, "I just hope he gets a fair trial."

Archuleta is the live-in boyfriend of one of Jovita's sisters. Archuleta and the sister have children together.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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